Sunday, April 4

Opening Day--Asserting the Unsupportable

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. For the past two seasons Jose has been… relaxed? No, negligent in writing his daily musings. Ostensibly this has been because he has spent the better part of the last two seasons in some of the world’s most remote and isolated places, Malawi, Uganda… Durham. This year, however, things have changed. Africa is not calling and North Carolina is not confining, and Jose is once again free to try to chronicle, if not the entire season, at least some portion thereof.

But travel is not the whole story of Jose’s two years of negligence. While his world was expanding, in many ways his worldview was contracting. As some of you know, Jose returned to school last year. Jose had assumed that the experience would be broadening, that it would refresh the intellectual capital that had been spent over four years of writing.

Jose was wrong.

As much as his undergraduate studies broadened Jose’s cultural horizon, graduated studies narrowed it. Whereas old Jose could comfortable discuss the implications of Durkheim’s Suicide on the squeeze play and the role of Berlin’s The Hedgehog and the Fox on the batting stance of Jimmy Foxx, new Jose is focused on the endless tedium of public policy. For two years, he has been able to think of nothing save how to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Julio Lugo contract (note: the costs outweigh the benefits), how to do a risk analysis of signing Jason Bay to a big deal (note: very risky) and how to use a stakeholder matrix to evaluate the ideal batting order (note: people killing vampires are not necessarily stakeholders). See. Narrow, boring stuff.

The other problem is that Jose has come to realize that his four years of writing here at KEYS lack intellectual rigor. Jose is eloquent, sure. But eloquence is not evidence. For four long years, Jose reveled in making assertions rather than argument, backing up his points with nothing more than an elegant tangle of verbiage. You can’t do that in the academic world. Claims must be supported and documented. This mindset infiltrated Jose’s blogging, leading to more structured, less frequent and far less fun posts. No longer could Jose make a simple assertion like “Jeter is the worst fucking defensive shortstop in baseball.” Instead, he would have to drag up the 30 or so defensive metrics that prove it. That takes time, and time, suddenly, was something Jose did not have.

But graduation is coming, and with it the sacred time that Jose has sacrificed like so much paschal lamb. And it comes, thank God on this Easter Sunday, just in time for baseball…

So let’s get to the unsubstantiated assertions.

2. Jose’s unsubstantiated assertions to start the new season.

• Jose has heard that the Red Sox signed Marco Scutaro because he has the sound “scooter” in his name. Apparently, Theo and company though this mean he would play like former Yankees short stop Phil “Scooter” Rizutto. Also, they were planning on hitting up the money store to pay salary. While this is profoundly stupid, it is far less stupid than the alternative, that the Red Sox thought they were getting Scooter the baseball from the Fox telecasts.

• David Ortiz is going to have a great season. (Note: Assertions are so great. See how Jose offered no evidence. He just said it and now is going to act like it’s true).

• It is not fair to call Dice K’s time in Boston a failure. He is only a failure in the sense that there were tremendous expectations of him, he failed to meet them in any way and the process has left fans feeling like management thought we were stupid. If you used this repressive standard for failure, you would have to call Cop Rock a failure, and as we all know now, Cop Rock was simply paving the way for Glee 20 years later. Look for the Red Sox to get some really solid work out of a Japanese starter in 2030.

• Watching Ronan Tynan sing while wearing a Sox jersey at the St. Patty’s day brunch was like watching video of Sadaam Hussein’s Bar Mitzvah. You know, except more anti-Semitic.

• Now that Mike Lowell will be sitting on the bench, Jose hopes his teammates taunt him with the phrase “no play for Mr. Gray” from that commercial for hair coloring with Keith Hernandez. Don’t take this the wrong way Mike but your beard is weird.

3. With the unsupported part of today’s program out of the way, let’s move on to the supported part. In this off-season, the Red Sox have paid a great deal of attention to improving their defense. Nay sayers in the media (note: or is the horse faced Shaughnessy a “neigh sayer?”) have attacked the emphasis on defense as nothing more than a propaganda campaign intended to cover up insufficient emphasis on offense.

This is asinine, though nothing one wouldn’t expect from the historically ignorant Boston media. Defense has proven absolutely critical throughout baseball and throughout history.

Consider Prague 1419, when radical Hussites, lacking sufficient offense used defenestration, which sounds enough like defense that Jose will assume they mean the same thing, to overcome opposition by the town’s Burgermeister.

Same city in 1618, more angry Protestants defenestrate regents who land on a pile of excrement. YES shows the clip for the next 380 years and comments on the selfless way the regents sacrificed their body, in contras to the brooding Nomar Garciaparra who sat silently watching.

Same city 1948, Prime Minister Jan Masaryk, is found dead, presumably defenestrated outside of a bathroom window at his office, giving new meaning to the phrase “dropping a deuce.”

Belgrade 1903, military rebels supporting the Karadjordjevic (George the Black) dynasty defenestrate King Alexander and Queen Draga, thereby ending the Obrenovic dynasty and bringing George Steinbrenner to power.

China 1968, Deng Pufang, son of Deng Xiaoping is defenestrated by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. To this day, no one knows what made the security force for the Cincinnati ball club so angry.

So after all of these successful applications of defenestration, local scribes still want to claim that defen(estration) doesn’t win championships?

Of course, the Protestants lost in Bohemia, the Czech Republic is no longer communist, the Karadjordjevic’s have no more control over Serbia than the Obrenovic’s and Deng Xiaoping remade China in his image. So maybe defen(estration) really doesn’t win championships.

That’s it. This entire theory of building a team around the ability to throw opponents out of windows is bunk. Jose insists that the Red Sox immediately acquire some players who are skilled with the poison tipped umbrella. Adrian Gonzales is good at that right?

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.